startups and code

Priorities and Career Paths

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Many people in my industry have priorities change on them daily. "Ok, everything you were working on is on hold... do this now". I have attended a 15 minute meeting where my priorities changed 3 times. Yes, that is once every 5 minutes. Now, I live in the Atlanta area now, after moving from Seattle, one of the largest tech cities in the world. I have attended a few meetups here, met several developers and recruiters. I often provide help at meetups of better practices (I always debate on "best") and guide others to new technology options they may not be aware of.

I am currently a Senior Software Engineer. I have been a Senior Software Engineer for almost 6 years. What is next? Lead Developer, although I technically have the title of that, I don't really know what that means. I also wonder about the direction of that career. Is that moving me into management? Is that even the career path I want? Now, that is the question I am posing today. If you move from developer to lead developer... or lead developer to architect... then you attend more meetings, and do less coding. I was told that several times. However, if you don't move in that direction, you will reach a salary cap because "the company can't justify paying you more because of your title". Yes, I have actually been told that a title, not my skills or contributions, limit my salary. So the question is, what path do I want to go? From what I have identified, consulting proves to be more of the direction. I go into companies, I work on a project as a hired gun, I solve complex problems with simple solutions, and I leave. I have switched jobs a lot since leaving Microsoft, some due to contracts and the work just ended, and some due to better opportunities. However, I am wondering what my career path is, long-term.

I love writing code and coming up with solutions using new technologies. I truly do love that. I am working on a Node.js project with a friend of mine right now and I have done several WordPress sites on the side for people. I love the simplicity of WordPress. I love simple. Complex solutions often mean inexperienced developers. I can over-engineer anything, but making it simple and easy to use and maintain, that is talent. I am definitely a developer with strong people skills. I love working with others and feeding off of their ideas. I am a rare breed I suppose.

So what do you think is the next step for me? Is it more .Net development, is it Node.js, is it management, is it consulting, is it moving back to Seattle, is it moving to Silicon Valley?

All I know now is I have a good job, some good people, and a nice commute. Maybe that is what it is all about.

What are your career goals and your priorities?